The London Registers of 1801 record one Thomas Willavise marrying a lady called Parnell Lane at the famous Church of St. Martins in the Field, at what is now Trafalgar Square. In 1813, William Fortunatus Willavies (another spelling form) was recorded on September 19th of that year, at St. Mary-Le-Bone. The question is where did these apparently unrelated people originate? It is our opinion that the surname is a dialectal form of a "lost" medieval village such as Wivelesleia, which appears in the 1198 Pipe Rolls of Leicestershire, a recordings relative to that form being John Willessey, recorded in Stepney, on December 4th 1738. However, research also indicates that Willavize, Willavise and Willavies could be a form of Willesbey, itself a derivative of Walesby, a Nottingham village, the surname also being found as Willsey and Wellesley. The name is definitely Olde English, and the meaning is probably "the farm amongst the willows", or possibly "William's farm", or even, "the willow enclosure". The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Osbert de Walesby, which was dated 1273, in the "Hundred Rolls of Lincolnshire", during the reign of King Edward 1, known as "The Hammer of the Scots", 1272 - 1307. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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